How To Read In Bed

The sturdiness and safety of our last queen-sized bed hinged on a few bolts or screws that hadn’t failed yet. In other words, my husband and I were sleeping on a mattress, precariously supported by a frame that seemed to have already experienced “The Big One.” One struggle with the sheets would send the whole thing crashing to the floor.

One day, I caught my husband fiddling with the metal headboard, which was surprisingly pliable. 

“Should we be able to bend the entire headboard into new shapes each evening? Is that a decorating goal to set for ourselves?” I asked.

“No. It’s time for a new bed,” he said.

His eyes flashed with excitement and adventure that said, “We’re not settling for the cheap stuff. We’re going Amish this time, baby!” 

Soon, we were shoving our nine-year-old son into the car and driving with wild abandon into the countryside. I’m not sure how long it took me to make it from the car to the front door of the store. That part is only a blur. I just remember the showroom, where I wanted to twirl about and run my hands all along the smooth surfaces. If the Earth’s tectonic plates were to shift and move at that moment, we would have all been safe under the furniture in the dining-room display for sure. 

It wasn’t long before my husband and I spotted the Mission-style bed and started pricing it out. 

“It’s fairly expensive,” my husband said.“However, I don’t think we need the footboard. The last bed we slept in didn’t have one, so we could maybe save $100 or so if we get everything but the footboard. What do you think?”

“What’s a footboard for, anyway? Sure—let’s save a few bucks.”

I absolutely loved this bed, with its cherry finish, squared-off frame, and perfectly spaced slats. I was ready to carry it off myself, but my husband wanted to take a look around at other pieces of furniture. When a showroom attendant stood by my side, I could not contain my excitement. I shouted, “We’ll take it! We’ll take it!”

She smiled and talked about each piece of that bed frame, but when she got to the footboard, I stopped her.

“We don’t need the footboard,” I said.

I don’t remember her telling me that I needed the footboard. Rather, she explained the footboard’s function:

“It helps keep the entire bed frame steady. It kind of stabilizes the bed.” 

Then, she paused and looked at me. I nodded my head, but I wasn’t sure what she was getting at.

“Do you like to read in bed?” she asked.

“No—I typically don’t. My husband does sometimes, but I don’t read in bed.”

She nodded her head and proceeded to take the footboard off the bed.

“When you go to lean your head back—to read of course—the headboard might bang onto the back wall. A footboard prevents that from happening.”

I noticed that while she spoke to me, she glanced over at my son—my nine-year-old son, who slept in the room right next to the master bedroom. In theory, a nine-year-old-child could be awakened by banging headboards, resulting from a rigorous engagement with literature. 

“Honey, we’re getting the footboard!” I called out. “For when we want to read in bed.” 

He started to say, “But you don’t read . . .”

However, I cut him off mid sentence in order to quickly explain that a footboard is the proper anchoring for reading.

His eyes grew wide. We left with the footboard.


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